European forwarder body backs end of conference carriersÆ immunity
Clecat, an association based in Brussels representing European forwarders, has backed the European Commission’s proposed reform of the conference antitrust regulation 4056/86.
Commenting on the EC’s “white paper,” or proposal, to end the collective pricing immunity of shipping lines, Clecat said it supports a liberalized shipping market.
“Unless independent research indicates that a regulated liner shipping market could benefit all parties involved, Regulation 4056/86 should now be repealed,” it said.
If alternative arrangements other than the repeal of the regulation are considered, Clecat advocated the involvement of all parties concerned in the discussions. It stressed that any new arrangement should be respectful of EU competition rules and “not privilege any party in particular.”
The carrier lobby group European Liner Affairs Association has proposed a compromise under which carriers would lose the conference immunity to agree on ocean rates, but would have a renewed immunity to agree on surcharges and compile common price and capacity statistics. Clecat said the European Liner Affairs Association proposal “is one of a number of options.”
The forwarder body also encouraged the EC “to pay attention, while repealing Regulation 4056/86, to other conference arrangements in the world.”
Last week, the European Liner Affairs Association charged that the EC’s white paper contained “no hard evidence” to support the regulator’s view that Regulation 4056/86 should be repealed.